news by location
Former coal-field town sees Main Street revitalization in visitor industry
Tazewell, Ky., has hit on a post-coal tourism-development niche by promoting a scenic highway that draws a growing number of visitors. An estimated 60,000 “motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts” came through the town last year, an almost fourfold increase since 2013. The traffic has allowed new retail businesses to open along a main street that was all but abandoned a generation ago.
Two ‘zombie’ coal plants in Virginia typify an industry in decline
Two aging power plants that are being kept on life support in Virginia typify the condition of much of the U.S. coal-fired electricity generation fleet. Yorktown 1 and 2, operated by Dominion Energy, are “limping along in the Virginia heat” as Dominion, which has six million customers, joins other major utility companies in turning to cleaner, more affordable options: “In this, it is no different than other utilities around the country that are similarly turning to cleaner energy sources and shutting down coal power.”
Utility trends don’t bode very well for fossil-fuel-fired electricity
Two huge interstate electricity companies—Vista Energy and Dominion Energy—are at the forefront of an industry retooling that favors cheap renewable forms of generation over natural gas and coal. The trend embodies “a bearish view of fossil-fuel energy” as solar and wind farms gain market share nationally, “curbing orders for new plants and forcing the closure of old ones.”
A Coming Boom Seen in Virginia’s Emerging Solar Industry
The Solar Energy Industries Association sees a nascent solar industry in Virginia tripling in generation capacity over the next five years and powering more than 200,000 homes. Growth is spurred by declining installation costs and demand from consumers. “Some industry officials and clean-energy advocates expect even-sharper growth during that timeframe and say the solar expansion almost certainly will accelerate across Virginia in the decades beyond,” says a newspaper report.
Survey: Swing-State Voters Favor Transition to Renewable Electricity Generation
A new survey finds that most voters in five swing states—Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia—favor state policies mandating 100 percent reliance on renewable energy for electricity generation. The survey results “serve as a potential warning to candidates to support renewable-energy policies or face possible voter backlash.”
Op-Ed: Sensible Change Comes to Virginia
Virginia is on the right path as it adopts stronger energy-efficiency standards, a broader commitment to solar and wind, and regulatory changes that encourage electricity-generation modernization. “Whether you’re an environmentalist concerned about the effects of climate change, a business trying to keep operating costs low or a consumer advocate looking out for low-income customers, this is a historic win that will generate economic and environmental benefits for years to come,” writes the author.
Op-Ed: Three Trends That Suggest No Coal Comeback
Three distinct trends continue to work against the U.S. coal industry. One is a rapid rise of black lung among miners in Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia, where old coal seams that are increasingly difficult to tap are creating new health hazards, according to research by Stone Mountain Health Services. Two is national momentum toward retirement of the aging fleet of U.S. coal-fired electricity generation stations. Three is a Trump administration plan that is being crafted to bail out failing coal plants. “What seems clear from all three cases is that the coal industry isn’t coming back,” says the author.
Op-Ed: Virginia Can Capitalize on New Energy Opportunities
Virginia lags its neighboring states in embracing transformational market forces and developing a modern energy economy. “We already know what the status quo costs our communities. But we haven’t seen what happens when we invest in local advanced energy businesses and jobs.”
Op-Ed: Next Governor Can Modernize Virginia’s Energy Economy
The “sleeping giant” of Virginia’s economy is the “advanced energy” sector, which employees more than 75,000 people in the energy efficiency sector—about as many as work in grocery stores—and 4,300 in the burgeoning solar industry, almost twice the number who work coal, oil, and natural gas.